British & Irish Lions 2013: Brian O’Driscoll dropped for final Test
British & Irish Lions 2013: Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones is set to captain Warren Gatland's men after Brian O'Driscoll is dropped
Alun Wyn Jones will captain the British & Irish Lions in their deciding Test against Australia on Saturday after Warren Gatland dropped Brian O’Driscoll.
Jones, who has 70 caps for Wales, will captain the Lions for the first time after O’Driscoll, widely expected to be given the armband after injuries to Warburton and fellow Irishman Paul O’Connell, was dropped from the 23-man matchday squad.
Gatland has made six personnel changes to the side that lost 16-15 in Melbourne with Jamie Roberts returning to the line-up at inside centre and Jonathan Davies moving into O’Driscoll’s No13 jersey.
“It’s not easy for that to be the first time but he is still going to be very important for us in the next 72 hours in terms of his experience and leadership,” said Gatland.
“Brian was disappointed but he appreciated that he was spoken to before the team announcement.
“Jamie is back fit and has been given the nod because of his partnership with Davies.
“[Alun Wyn Jones] leads from the front. He’s been outstanding in the lead-up games and was one of the first names on the teamsheet when we picked the side for the first two Tests.
“He’ll lead by example. There are leaders in other positions as well.”
Jones, 27, has started both of the Lions’ Tests so far in Australia and appeared in all three in 2009 against South Africa and he will resume his second-row partnership with England’s Geoff Parling in Sydney.
With a record ten Wales players in the side, Gatland has placed faith in a number of players with whom he won the Six Nations Grand Slam.
Coming into the front row are fit-again England prop Alex Corbisiero and hooker Richard Hibbard to join tighthead Adam Jones while in the back row Ireland’s Sean O’Brien comes in for Warburton and Toby Faletau is selected at No8 in place of Jamie Heaslip. Dan Lydiate keeps his place at blindside.
Wales’ Mike Phillips returns at scrum-half, teaming up again with Jonny Sexton, while the back three of George North, Tommy Bowe and Leigh Halfpenny are unchanged.
British and Irish Lions: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales); Tommy Bowe (Ireland), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Jamie Roberts (Wales), George North (Wales); Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales); Alex Corbisiero (England), Richard Hibbard (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales), Alun Wyn Jones (captain, Wales), Geoff Parling (England), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Toby Faletau (Wales).
Replacements: Tom Youngs (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Dan Cole (England), Richie Gray (Scotland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Conor Murray (Ireland), Owen Farrell (England), Manu Tuilagi (England).